Michael Massing, a former executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, is the author of Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind. (February 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

How to Cover the One Percent

Billionaires Bill Gates and Carlos Slim at the opening of a new research facility for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Texcoco, Mexico, February 2013

As the concentration of wealth in America has grown, so has the scale of philanthropy. Today, that activity is one of the principal ways in which the superrich not only “give back” but also exert influence, yet it has not received the attention it deserves.

Digital Journalism: How Good Is It?

Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post, talking about the baby boom generation at the Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales, June 2014
That digital technology is disrupting the business of journalism is beyond dispute. What’s striking is how little attention has been paid to the impact that technology has had on the actual practice of journalism. The distinctive properties of the Internet—speed, immediacy, interactivity, boundless capacity, global reach—provide tremendous new opportunities for the gathering and presentation of news and information. Yet amid all the coverage of start-ups and IPOs, investments and acquisitions, little attempt has been made to evaluate the quality of Web-based journalism, despite its ever-growing influence.

NYR DAILY

Trump & CNN: Case History of an Unhealthy Codependency

People shouting behind CNN reporter Jim Acosta before a Trump rally, West Columbia, South Carolina, June 25, 2018

With the divisions in the country seeming to harden in the wake of the midterms, journalists need to do a better job of overcoming them. Sadly, Jim Acosta’s confrontation with President Trump at the post-election press conference seemed certain to heighten the divisions. For CNN, the encounter added to their star reporter’s visibility and the network’s image as a fighter for press freedom. To Trump and his supporters, Acosta’s grandstanding provided further evidence of the news media’s implacable hostility to them. Each side, in short, seemed to get from the encounter exactly what it wanted.

Luther vs. Erasmus: When Populism First Eclipsed the Liberal Elite

Lucas Cranach the Elder: Martin Luther, circa 1532; Hans Holbein the Younger: Portrait of Erasmus, 1523

Erasmus was an internationalist who sought to establish a borderless Christian union; Luther was a nationalist who appealed to the patriotism of the German people. Where Erasmus wrote exclusively in Latin, Luther often used the vernacular, the better to reach the common man. Erasmus wanted to educate a learned caste; Luther, to evangelize the masses. For years, they waged a battle of ideas, with each seeking to win over Europe to his side. But in a turbulent and polarized age, Erasmus became an increasingly marginal figure: the archetypal reasonable liberal.

The War We Aren’t Debating

A soldier guarding a marijuana plantation discovered during military operations in northern Mexico, January 30, 2012

It’s a social policy that, many experts agree, has failed miserably since it was introduced more than forty years ago, tearing apart families and communities across the United States, consuming tens of thousands of lives abroad, and squandering huge sums of money. Yet hardly any national politician is willing to challenge it, and it’s been completely ignored during the 2012 presidential campaign. I’m speaking of the war on drugs.